Tuesday, June 27, 2017

‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ this Summer with our Confidence-Building Programme!

We have been helping the women of Liverpool ‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ through our confidence-building programme, and we are now delighted to announce two more dates for August and September.

Our personal development and confidence building is designed to help you see your true potential and turn that potential into success. Whatever age, background or stage of life you are at, this programme will help you build positively for your future.

The programme covers many topics including becoming more assertive and breaking negative thinking habits in order to develop a more positive outlook in all aspects of life. ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ enables you to identify the clear and practical steps to take in order to build a better world for yourself at work, at home and in relationships. 

We caught up with ‘Change It’ Trainer, Jenny, who said: “We all lose our confidence at some stage in life – ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ helps you learn more about yourself, plan for the future you want and rebuild that confidence one step at a time. On this programme, I have met so many women from different backgrounds who have each faced challenges for various reasons, and being a part of their journey and watching them grow in self-esteem has been a privilege.”

We also caught up with Vicky from the last cohort of ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “Jenny was my trainer for the Change It Course and she was brilliant, she was very supportive and offered many open doors. Jenny is the type of person you would like as a friend! Thank you anyway to The Women's Org, absolutely immense!”

Our confirmed August and September dates will both run for 4-weeks at 54 St James Street, home to The Women’s Organisation. The dates are as followed:

Wednesday 2nd August 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 9th, 16th, 23rd)

Wednesday 20th September 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 27th, 11th, 18th
*please note there is a one-week break in this course after week 2

This programme also runs from a number of Children’s Centres in Liverpool. We will be releasing more details on these venues and dates in due course.

If you are a woman and would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, please contact our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.

If you are an organisation and would like to refer someone onto the programme, or contact a member of the Change It team about opportunities, please contact a member of our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marking 21 Years of The Women's Organisation and our Collaboration with dot-art 🎈

2017 marks 21 years of The Women’s Organisation. Never one to shy away from a party, we celebrated this milestone alongside those who have helped us along the way. 

We were joined by a whole host of people, from clients to tenants, local businesses and local authorities, our Baltic neighbours and Board Members, partners to funders and anyone else that has played a part in our history and success.

The occasion also honoured our collaboration with local, independent art gallery, dot-art. Some of you may have noticed the artwork that has appeared around 54 St James Street, a flagship facility for women and business.

For the next 18 months, our lovely building will double up as an art exhibition, showcasing the work of local artists Joanne Thompson and Olga Snell. We were joined by Founder of dot-art Lucy Byrne, who championed art as an integral part of everyday life and detailed some of the huge benefits of art in the workplace.

As our guests headed around the building to view the artwork, the artists were on hand to offer an insight into the thought behind the artwork.

We also had a speech from CEO of The Women’s Organisation, the incredible Maggie O’Carroll. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of meeting our Maggie will know that she has a way with words and can capture the eyes and mind of every person she speaks to. And she certainly didn’t disappoint – on 21 years of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie said: “I really have no comment to make because I can't remember most of it". 

Our Chief of Finance, Helen Millne, made sure to grab the mic and acknowledge Maggie’s incredible leadership and dedication to achieving women’s economic equality.

Maggie may be modest – but we’re happy to shout her amazing successes on her behalf. Maggie O’Carroll is an inspirational woman that has paved the way for equality and change in her own indomitable way. For 21 years, Maggie has devoted her time to levelling the playing field for women in all aspects of life.

From day one, our mission has been to ensure that women have a voice at the highest level, in business, community, political life, and in the wider world. At 21 years, we celebrate having impacted the lives of over 50,000 women, locally, nationally and internationally. However, Maggie reminded us that whilst we celebrate our success and the positive impact we have had, we still have an incredibly long way to go.

Thanks to all those who joined us yesterday and an even bigger thank you to every person who has played even the smallest role in the history and success of The Women’s Organisation. Here’s to 21 more …

The artwork is displayed throughout the building including at Reception, Siren communal areas and meeting rooms. So, if you pay us a visit anytime soon, please remember to take a look at the artwork and let us know what you think!

You can check out the photos from the event here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Training Coordinators Jenny & Mandy Had Picnics In The Park With LMH!

Two wet weekends in May - and two different picnics with Liverpool Mutual Homes! 

Training Coordinator Jenny attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in Princes Park in June along with our advice stand and Guess The Bear competition. And Training Coordinator Mandy attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in North Liverpool's Stanley Park!

Mandy said; ‘It was one of those rainy days in North Liverpool but that didn’t stop the fun! As a mum of three kids I don’t think we have ever missed this event as it has become the one that myself and the local residents really look forward to. However, on this weekend I attended as a stallholder ready to give out information about services and training that we at The Women’s Organisation can offer to local people.’

‘There were many who passed through our information tent gathering the leaflets and taking refuge from the deluge of rain that was pouring down! But the rain didn’t put people off asking for information on how to set up a business and ask for the details of our new personal development programme; Progress to Success; Change It, which is proving to be a huge success for the women of Liverpool!’

‘So, yes it was raining but that did not dampen the North Liverpool spirit and judging by the many requests for start-up advice, we were glad to be there!’

For Jenny's day the main event was choosing the winner of Barnaby the Bear! The residents of the Princes Park area were invited to guess the name of the Bear (which had been chosen by WO staff in the office) and young James correctly guessed Barnaby!

All in all, two great days out at Stanley Park and Prince Park – thanks so much to Liverpool Mutual Homes for inviting us to be part of these events. 

Liverpool Mutual Homes are strategic partners of the Enterprise Hub project. Enterprise Hub is the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Liverpool City Region, offering expert advice and support to those who are thinking about starting a business. Enterprise Hub is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DIGA Project Resources Now Accessible for Enterprise Trainers and Educators

Over the past two and a half years, partners of the Erasmus+ DIGA -  Digital Innovations for Growth Academy - Project have been developing an innovative learning programme for enterprise trainers and educators (ETEs).  

Recognising how digital technology is rapidly transforming how people communicate, learn, work and manage new enterprises and its central role in personal and professional contexts, the DIGA Project partners are delighted to share the resources they have developed.

DIGA Project Partners at their latest meeting, Kaunas, Lithuania, May 2017

The DIGA Learning Programme is designed to support colleagues delivering vocational education and training in the fields of entrepreneurship and business development so that entrepreneurs and small business owners better integrate digital technologies into their business start-up and development activities.

Our DIGA Learning Programme has been informed by extensive research into the needs of enterprise learners, teachers, advisers and entrepreneurs.

 It is structured into 5 modules:
  • Enhancing Digital Awareness and Knowledge
  • The Role and Use of Digital Technologies and their Benefits to Business
  • Making Digital Deliver for the Start-up and Small Business
  • Enabling and Supporting the Development of an Entrepreneurial Digital Strategy
  • Designing Integrated (Digital Competence) Entrepreneur Support / Programmes

Each module involves information and knowledge, as well as small group and individual activities. Reports, case studies and a range of learning tools are integrated throughout.

The DIGA Learning Programme is available in Bulgarian, English, Lithuanian, Slovenian and Spanish. Visit the official DIGA Project website for more information and to access the learning recources.

The research and publications underpinning our work are also available, including reports and briefing papers by Dr Briga Hynes from University of Limerick and DIGA Project partner leading research activities.

As the DIGA Project enters its final stages to an end, we are pleased to have worked on such a great programme alongside our partners.

To find out more about DIGA Project check out our new videos in 6 languages and head to http://digaproject.eu/videos/. You can also follow DIGA on Twitter.

After Craving A Career In Counselling, Alison Simone Left Behind her Retail Management Job And Pursued Her Interest In Counselling; Pineal Counselling.

Alison decided to follow her dream and start up her counselling business.  Pineal Counselling is a counsellor / psychotherapist business offering a mobile facility in Runcorn, Warrington, Widnes and surrounding areas. 

Alison’s business motto is, ‘To see the light again, and to feel, without confusion. To end the turmoil and again walk in sunshine.’

Once Alison decided to take the plunge, she took her first steps to business by designing and setting up a website. As well as this, Alison designed flyers and business cards to promote Pineal Counselling.  Setting up her own website was the biggest obstacle. 

However, after receiving various help from The Women’s Organisation, Alison soon got to grips with the visual aspect of her business. The Women’s Organisation helped Alison to create flyers and tackle the initial daunting financial part of her business.

Alison has gained many qualifications that compliment her business. She has attended Riverside college, Halton and Staffordshire University, attaining Counselling level one and two. As well as this, Alison has recently achieved her Foundation Degree in counselling.

Business is currently going slowly for Alison but she has high hopes for things to progress. The best thing about running for own business is Arranging the timing to suit myself (weekends off).’ 

So far, Alison feels ‘Brilliant!’ about what she has achieved since starting up her business. In terms of the future, Alison hopes that once she has achieved her BSc Hons, her business will continue to progress.

If you are interested in the services Alison offers, you can contact her on:

Email: pineal.counselling@sky.com

If you've been inspired by Alison's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then contact us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Caz's Kitchen | A Cake Institution 🍰

Caz’s Kitchen is an institution. 

If you haven’t heard of this little nugget of gold located on St John’s Road in Waterloo, where have you been? Caz’s Kitchen might be defined by some as simply a cake shop, but to those who know, it is so much more than that!

Photo Credit: Mark McNulty
Caz and her team supply cakes to local restaurants, coffee shops and delis, but customers can also enjoy her gorgeous cakes in her quirky little premises. Caz also sells whole cakes, desserts, tartes, tortes, cheesecakes and puddings, plus cake platters and cake towers for parties and functions and even wedding cakes!

But Caz’s speciality is cakes for specific dietary requirements, what’s so unique about Caz’s cakes is that they are REAL. She uses nothing artificial in her cakes, choses butter over margarine and the flavours come from in-house roasted nuts, Belgian couverture chocolate and fruits from her allotment. In fact, everything about Caz herself, her kitchen and her team is REAL. When we visited Caz at her Waterloo premises on St John’s Road she told us; ‘We are passionate about ‘proper’ cake. Good food is good for the soul and a well-deserved treat (not a chemical cake from the supermarket) is a beautiful thing!’

As well as real, proper cake, Caz has also developed a range of innovative treats, her HappyHealthyYum range; ‘These are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free treats that are designed to fill you up and satisfy you with slow releasing energy and are chock full of superfood, vitamins and minerals.’ – So, it seems that you can have your cake and eat it too with Caz!

The journey to Caz’s Kitchen has been a long one though, and we were delighted to sit down with the woman herself; Caroline Hill, and get the full story!

Before Caz started her business, she graduated with a degree in Food Science & Nutrition and began to work in the field of Product Development, working on new products for most of the major retailers starting with a job in Safeways and then moving on to developing chilled desserts for Marks & Spencer.

‘I was the person that worked with a chef on a kitchen recipe then project managed that recipe to become mass producible. I would work alongside buyers, a production team and technical and engineering departments to taste recipes in a test kitchen and then the pilot plant before they went into full production.’

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz says that when she first started this job there was a massive buzz when she would see her products on the supermarket shelves at the end of an exhausting project. But, things began to change. Caz began working for a smaller company and found that the job became less about researching the marketplace adequately and all the other details and processes that make up developing a proper product, it became more about the bottom line.

‘When I started my career in Product Development I was developing 10 products over the space of a 6-month critical path. By the end I was juggling 200 products with a 3-week turnaround from concept to launch. And the products that were being launched were rubbish.’

Caz is a pro-independent, massive foodie who is down to earth, friendly, unpretentious, caring and ethical, so it might not come as much of a surprise that she decided at this point, a future of developing products from big brand supermarkets wasn’t for her!

This was over 10 years ago, next Caz decided she would try and set up her own business, a coffee shop and deli and she got in touch with The Women’s Organisation, back when were known as Train 2000, and we helped Caz with a business plan. Now she is back in the fold of The Women’s Organisation again, working closely with Senior Business Adviser; Claire Pedersen on our growth programme; New Markets 2.

But, rewind to 10 years ago when Caz began working on her own business plan; ‘A deli and coffee shop in my local community. It would be ethical, it would be cosy, it would support other local businesses and it would be healthy and wholesome.’

Caz negotiated on numerous premises for this business, after a few years and a series of knockbacks she started to feel that maybe it just wasn’t to be; ‘I was starting to run out of steam on hunting for the right place, it was all consuming; planning and hunting and failing to be successful in bidding for properties for one reason or another. So I just put it out of my mind for a while.’

During these years Caz worked for numerous start-up foodie businesses in Liverpool and small businesses that were looking to develop; ‘I was working on and off for various SME’s in all aspects of their business, office, front of house and cheffing. I was enjoying assisting other people with their start-ups and offering help and advice in the areas that I have good knowledge of from my years in the food industry. As well as this I was also gaining more relevant experience within the independent sector.’

Caz now sees this as invaluable as it formed the perfect building block on which to base her own business. ‘I actually started baking from home alongside my day job as a bit of a favour to a friend. I never at that point thought it would become a full-time thing! But actually, it suited me as I’m generally less of a cheffy chef and more of a control freak with my cooking, a tip of the hat to how I was trained working for the supermarkets, always working to very strict specifications and recipes.

‘Baking was something that combined my love of food but also my nature of precision and accuracy. Baking is a science and I have a Food Science degree! It was then that the thought of baking as a way to earn a crust was born.’

As word spread about Caz’s cakes and the contracts increased, she took the plunge and after 3 years of baking from home moved to the premises on St Johns Road in Waterloo. The name ‘Caz’s Kitchen’ was derived from the fact that it did start in her own kitchen!

Caz then got back in touch with The Women’s Organisation and began to work with Claire on our growth programme; New Markets 2. Claire said; ‘When I met Caz her business was doing really well, but she was still running as a sole trader. She needed to professionalise her systems and image and bring it all band up to date with where she is currently with her business. She also wanted to grow and expand the wholesale side of her business. We developed a strategy for growth starting with updating and formalising some current systems, looking a timeline for a rebrand and a new website to be built.’

And Caz has been receiving some fantastic feedback from her customers; ‘We have been blown away with the encouragement and support. Honestly, I am humbled by the positivity surrounding the shop, it means everything to us.’ Because for Caz, it’s not about the hard sell and she says; ‘Our marketing strategy has been more of a whisper than a shout.’ But it’s one that worked, she has a fiercely loyal customer base and is passionate about providing the best for her customers, with their happiness being her priority rather than profit or growth.

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz adds; ‘What’s unique about my business is that it is genuine. I haven’t created a business idea to generate money or jump on a bandwagon. It’s something that has come as a natural progression from my previous work. It’s just like everything has come together as a happy coincidence, at the right time for me personally and the right time for my community. I do truly believe that the reason I have such a lovely bunch of supportive customers is because they see the authenticity in me and the shop.’

‘I’m extremely conscious of providing more than just cake. I want all our customers to feel well looked after, welcomed and appreciated. I want to add to my local community and for customers to feel they are very much a part of my business, to put smiles on their lovely faces.’

And what is Caz’s key to success? What would her advice be for other business women? ‘If, at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. I pushed so hard to get my first business off the ground and everyone who knows me knows the trials and tribulations I went through trying to set up that business.’

‘In the end I did launch one! Granted it wasn’t the one I was expecting, but in hindsight it was the perfect one for me, combining lots of aspects of my previous work, experience, education and hobbies. I’ve had my allotment for 15 years and never expected to use it as part of my business. It’s also really satisfying to use my nutrition degree and product development experience to create the healthy eating cakes.’

So, what is next for Caz and her kitchen? Caz told us that she would like to just continue along the road that she is already one, and it’s a successful road! ‘I want to carry on doing the best I can for my customers, my staff and my community and continue to support other local businesses and charities. Every day is a school day and I’m learning all the time about how to run a better business.;

So, if you would like to visit Caz and try some of her cakes, and believe us, they are INCREDIBLE, you can find all of Caz’s details over on her website and by following the links below. And if you’ve been inspired by Caz’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business, get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Email - info@cazkitchen.co.uk  
Address - 47 St John's Road, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22 9QB

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anastasia's Story: Taking Steps to Mental Health Recovery Through 'Change It: Progress to Success'

We caught up with Anastasia, who completed our first round of ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, to find out her thoughts on the programme and see what she’s up to now. 

Anastasia is a mother of two, her son is aged 5 and has been diagnosed with Autism, and her daughter now nearly 3. Originally on a zero-hours contract, Anastasia has been out of work since entering maternity leave when pregnant with her first child; “I tried doing voluntary work between my two pregnancies but the time wasn’t right. I was under a lot of stress as a first-time mother and a single parent with no family support”. 

Feeling the strain of juggling so much at once, Anastasia neglected herself and couldn’t control her moods or behaviour, “I was spiralling into psychosis and when my younger child was only four months old I had to spend a month in a mental hospital”.

However, 2 years on and Anastasia is working towards recovery and on a personal journey of hope and empowerment. She is finding meaning to life through engagement with others, developing new supportive relationships and furthering her skills and learning.

Anastasia signed up to ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, a programme led by The Women’s Organisation that supports women into feeling more positive about what they can achieve. Here she met our Trainer, Alison, who she was full of praise for: “Alison was open about how various difficult experiences in her life had impacted her, and this helped us to speak about our own stories”. Anastasia enjoyed being part of a ‘warm circle of like-minded women’, meeting up weekly and tackling new topics such as assertiveness, positive thinking and how to manage change.

For Anastasia, the hardest part was putting her new skills into practice once leaving the session, “this is where you need motivation to combat your negative thinking – it takes you out of your comfort zone”. She valued the fact that every woman who attended the programme had a different background and story to tell as they were able to learn from each other. Anastasia also appreciated the option of one-to-one support from her tutor, Alison, as she felt this allowed each woman to reflect individually and move at their own pace.

So how did the course help Anastasia? She now uses personal development as her motivation for making positive changes in her life and Anastasia has successfully applied the things she learnt at ‘Change It’, into her real day-to-day life. She feels more confident about applying for jobs, “I have got all the faith in myself now that when an interview comes I will present myself with confidence”.

Anastasia is now looking for voluntary work and is aiming to be give back by being more involved with organisations of which she was once a service-user. She has been working on her CV, but claims that she “will not forget about a good work-life balance to keep well”.

Finally, we asked Anastasia what she would say to other women who were thinking about signing up to the next ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “making a change in your life, however small it might be, will cause a chain reaction. You will look at things differently and begin to open new doors – you will surprise yourself!”.

Thank you to Anastasia for sharing her experience with us!

If you would like to find out more information about ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, or express your interest in the enrolling for the next programme, please contact a member of our Engagement Team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Jo and Dawn combined their passion and started up their own business; Your Homestay

Jo and Dawn recognised the extra demand placed on language schools to recruit and vet hosts ready for their peak period of June to August. So, they joined a partnership to create their new thriving business; Your Homestay. 

This business provides services to the language travel industry. ‘Thousands of foreign students travel to Liverpool and Southport each year to attend short or extended stay English language courses and therefore boost the economy in these areas. 60% of these students choose homestay accommodation to consolidate their language education and experience English life in a typical home.’

Prior to running Your Homestay, Jo took a career break from secondary school teaching to bring up her three children and then went into supply teaching. During her career break she began hosting students for a school in Liverpool to introduce her children to diverse cultures and languages. Before teaching in England, Dawn taught English as a foreign language in South Korea and has recently worked at a senior level for the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO).

Since her break from teaching, Jo has been a homestay host for a language school in Liverpool for four years. It was through their separate work areas that they began to acknowledge there was a valuable place for their business. Through this recognition, Jo and Dawn conducted various research in the numbers of schools and their student capacity in Liverpool. They met with senior figures from those schools to explore the potential areas in which they could support them.

At first, starting-up was a ‘bit daunting’ for the duo, but they sought advice from as many sources as possible. ‘It has been a huge learning curve and we underestimated how much work it involved.’ Jo and Dawn were initially going to spend more time developing networks and setting up systems but certain opportunities emerged which they felt they should embrace. The overwhelming feeling during this phase of their venture was of a determined excitement. 

Jo and Dawn contacted The Women’s Organisation where they received ‘invaluable support.’ They were assigned to one of our business advisors who guided them through all the processes. This included creating an action plan, identifying product and definitions and advice on essentials such as insurance and tax. The pair also attended various courses to support them with various aspects of their business like ‘Building a Social Media Strategy.’

‘In doing all of this we have been able to network with other women in the same situation, and retain the support of our business advisor.’

As Jo and Dawn are both mothers, they had to find that balance between work, home life and setting up a business. And as a result, they feel many sacrifices have been made with regards to family and friends. ‘We have been working seven days a week to get the business up and running but once everything is in place it will ease a little, we hope!’

‘The best thing is being your own boss and managing your own time and workload.’
So far, they are proud of what their business has achieved which has only been possible through hard work and sacrifices. ‘One minute we were teachers and the next we are business women!’

For anybody thinking of starting a business, Jo and Dawn would advise you to not ‘rush into it…Keep it simple and where possible keep your start-up costs low.’ They suggest seeking advice but don’t get over burdened with it! ‘Make decisions based on your needs not those of others.’

If you’re interested in the services Jo and Dawn offer, you can contact them on:

Tel: 07795023506

And if you've been inspired by Jo and Dawn's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In the Media: Recent Changes to Gender Pay Gap Legislation

Recent changes to government legislation on the gender pay gap and how it is regulated has seen a move towards the introduction of mandatory gender pay gap reporting. This means that all companies with over 250 employees must now legally publish figures on how much men and women employees are paid. We had a look at how this has been received in the media, and what this means in working towards reducing the gender pay gap.

In February 2016, we ran a blog highlighting the issue of the gender pay gap, standing at 19.2% at the time, and spoke to Maggie O’Carroll, CEO of The Women’s Organisation – who highlighted how regulation and practices surrounding the gender pay gap are both ‘outdated’ and ‘redundant’. Since then, the law on regulating the gender pay gap has changed, meaning that any company with employee numbers over 250 are now required by law to publish figures on the gender pay gap, gender bonus gap, percentage of men and women employees receiving bonus’ and the proportion of men and women employed by the company.
This is good news, right? A step in the direction – it has been recognised by the government that the gender pay gap will not be eradicated without legislation and pressures on larger companies. This new form of legislation aims to create transparency in how much women and men employees are being paid and tighten regulation on aiming to reduce the gender pay gap. There has been a media flurry surrounding this, with some media outlets suggesting that this new legislation is the first step in progressive change for reducing the gender pay gap, and others suggesting that it has simply not gone far enough
The new legislation should work to put pressure on companies to work to reduce the gender pay gap and strive towards equal pay, as the publication of these figures can reflect negatively on the reputation of a company if there is shown to be a considerable gender pay gap. These figures will be open access, so companies will now be held publicly accountable for unequal levels of pay.
However, recent reports in the media have shown a reluctance from some companies in publishing these figures – with reportedly only 5 out of 9000 required firms having published their figures so far, and some firms refusing to publish figures on the basis that this data is not stored collectively, citing difficulty with this due to the amount of time that it may take to publish these figures as negatively impacting working hours.
Companies are also required to provide an explanation for their figures, and it has been suggested that some firms may be holding back on the publication of data that highlights gender inequalities or pay gaps within the firm, waiting until a wave of publications come in so that the focus is diverted away from any one particular company within a sudden influx of data.
This is clearly all speculative, but from engaging with the immediate media reaction there seems to be some levels of questionability around how far the new legislation will go in practice in working to close the gender pay gap. We can only keep following it for now as figures continue to be published by companies, and hope that this legislation will serve to kick start the motion in a future of equal pay and opportunity for women.

Meet our Volunteer Alex for National Volunteers Week!

Volunteer Week is an annual celebration of the wonderful people who help make a difference across the UK. Here at The Women's Organisation, we're lucky to have TWO volunteers who contribute week in and week out to the work we do. Last week, we introduced you to Ann Marie from our Marketing team, if you didn't read it you can catch up here.

This week, we would like to introduce you to the wonderful Alex Kendrick, a Masters student from University of Liverpool. Alex has been with us for several months now working on an exciting project for The Women's Organisation's 21st Birthday. She has been out meeting and profiling some incredible and pioneering women across the city who have paved the way for change and equality in their own indomitable way. 

And we think that Alex is pretty incredible herself - she has actually just been granted funding to begin a PhD!  As it is National Volunteers Week, we wanted to take a moment to shine a light on the AMAZING Alex, her experience at The Women’s Organisation and what she thinks about volunteering.

What’s your full name, what area are you from and how old are you?

My name is Alex Kendrick, I am 22 and I am from Formby, Merseyside – but currently living in Liverpool city centre.

How did you end up working with The Women’s Organisation?

I had just finished my first term of my Masters degree and I had a little more free time to broaden my skills and try and get some experience in the workplace. I had been following The Women’s Organisation on social media for a while and knew that this was an exciting organisation to be involved with, and an organisation that holds values close to my own. I took the opportunity to make contact with The Women’s Organisation, and then had a chance to come in and chat to a few of the Media and Engagement team. This was really useful in both making sure I was right for a volunteer role and also helping me in getting to know a bit more about The Women’s Organisation and 54 St James Street. I was then offered a volunteer position and began my role at The Women’s Organisation the following week!

What were you doing prior to working here?

I started my volunteer role in February this year, prior to that I began my MA in Human Geography at the University of Liverpool in September - which runs for a full year. I graduated from my BA in Geography in summer 2016. I was also working in a coffee shop part time, which I am still doing now.

What did you hope to get out of volunteering with us?

I don’t think I came into The Women’s Organisation with a particular list of things that I wanted to achieve, and I think as a result of this the skills and experience I have gained has surpassed all my expectations. I suppose I wanted to further my skills outside of academia and look into more work based ways of applying my research interests, and also gain work based skills and contacts through this.

What have you learned while you were here? Have you developed any new skills?

I have learnt so much! I have been able to use and develop the skills I have gained through my academic life and really see how these can be utilized outside of university. I have been working on a project marking 21 years of The Women’s Organisation promoting women’s empowerment and economic development, which has involved interviewing influential women across the Liverpool City region. This has been brilliant both in terms of developing my interviewing and writing skills and also really learning how to network and form a rapport with different people.

What has been most interesting about working here?

I think just seeing first-hand the work that is being done across the city and specifically the work that The Women’s Organisation are doing. I had the pleasure of attending the launch of Future Boss Club a couple of months ago, an organisation for young female professionals in Liverpool which has been set up by a really talented group of women, quite a few of which are from The Women’s Organisation, and FBC seems set to be a really exciting new venture for young women in business in the city – I am looking forward to seeing it grow!

What will you take away from the experience?

I have learnt to always go for opportunities, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine whether a volunteering role will fit into your life, or that extra project you might be thinking of getting involved in, but I’ve learnt to just take the chance and go for it – throwing yourself into different projects is rewarding in so many ways.

Why do you think volunteering is important/useful?

Volunteering is important for personal development, and increasing understanding of what goes on outside your usual sphere. People skills, time management skills, and developing knowledge and interest beyond what you normally would are absolutely vital for future career prospects and also just general well-being.

What is your next step and future goals?

I have recently been granted funding from the Economic and Social Research Council for three years to complete my PhD at the University of Liverpool. That starts in October, so I am very much looking forward to finishing my Masters and embarking on my next project!

Do you think your career journey is any different as a result of your placement?

Definitely. Volunteering at The Women’s Organisation has given me clarity on what the next chapter of my life will be, and has also opened my mind to the options available to me over the next 5 or 10 years of my career - being surrounded by driven individuals has been extremely beneficial.

What advice would you give to other women considering looking for volunteer placements?

Go for it! Spend time researching an organisation that you are interested in working with and don’t be afraid to just send them a message or an email – you have nothing to lose by making contact with an organisation and seeing if it is the right place for you.

Is there anything else you want to say about volunteering or The Women's Organisation?

I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone I have worked with so far at The Women’s Organisation for making me feel so welcome in such an enjoyable working environment.

Thanks Alex for all your fabulous work! We are so happy to have you in our organisation. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jean Todd Decided To Turn Her Hobby Into A Business; Toddies Dog Training 🐢🐾

Jean Todd runs her own dog training classes for puppy, young dog and adult dog beginners and hopefully a tricks class in the future when I get enough interest. Clients can book one to one training sessions or have a behavioural consultation if they are having problems controlling their dog in anyway. Jean also offers dog walking and house sitting for people who don’t want to leave their dogs in kennels. Toddies has been running for 3 months now, and so far, Jean is loving being self-employed. ‘I’ve met some lovely people, their dogs and hopefully built on that special bond they share together’.

Prior to starting up her own business, Jean had worked in various careers but mainly in the rag trade as a sewing machinist. From working as a supervisor in a hat factory to a TA solider for 8 years, Jean has worked all her life. She also worked as a day centre officer with people who have additional needs additional needs making curtains and soft furnishings. ‘I spent the last few years looking after my boyfriend’s parents helping them live independently in their own home, as a carer’. Jean’s most recent employment in a residential care home pushed her to leave as ‘I felt it in my best interest, personally and emotionally, to leave before I had the chance to find another job’. When Jean found herself unemployed she felt alone; ‘I asked myself “is this a midlife crisis”! I was left with a dread of the future. What was I going to do, what did I want to do, where was I going to look?’ 

During the previous 18 months, Jean attended dog behavioural courses which ran between 3 to 5 days a month. Jean stumbled across this by chance as she had never intended to be a dog trainer let alone a behaviourist.  Her own dog Ted, intrigued Jean into the world of dogs, she was curious to find out why Ted acts the way he does and how she can change certain things without punishment.With the help of her boyfriend encouraging her to follow this hobby interest, Jean found the confidence to at least consider this as an option. The more I learnt the more I wanted to learn and I was swept away on a tide of enlightenment. Dogs are so amazing and so misunderstood. We are learning new things all the time, backed with scientific evidence’.
So, Jean decided to ring around venues for hire in her local area, Litherland, to start a puppy class. However, she found that no one wanted dogs in their community centres; ‘it was so frustrating especially as I had convinced myself that I could run an amazing class with behavioural hints and tips'. Despite this, Jean continued her search. When driving around Sefton, looking for suitable buildings, Jean made an appointment with councillor Lapin’s surgery at Litherland community centre to see if they knew of any dog friendly buildings. ‘She passed my details and dilemma onto Sefton at work who contacted me the very next day. They then put me in touch with the Women’s Org.’

After being put into contact with The Women’s Organisation, Jean met with our business adviser, Huda, who has ‘lifted my spirits and she totally believes in what I’m doing’. Jean says that The Women’s Organisation have been ‘amazing’ with the support and help they have given her. As well as regular meetings, Jean also attended several of our business courses which helped her to create a business plan, tackle the daunting financial figures and utilise social media. ‘They have a structure for you to follow so your focusing on the things that matter and can help with the things you’re not familiar with.’

‘You can’t help but feel empowered after a session.’

The flexibility of Jean’s schedule is just one aspect of running her own business that she loves. ‘If I have a session in the evening I can enjoy going out for lunch with a friend. If I’m working early in the day then I spend time with my boyfriend’. If something isn’t going the way Jean planned then it’s up to her to change things, reassess and evolve as a business. Jean has the ability and control to change certain ways if they are not performing. Being able to watch an owner understanding their dog is the best feeling in the world for Jean. After three months of running, Jean's classes are getting busier. And in terms of the future, Jean hopes to find another venue that is dog friendly when she can run her classes.

‘When your business is your hobby or your passion it’s hard to describe it as work’.

For anyone thinking of starting up their own business, Jean would advise them to get in contact with The Women’s Organisation. ‘Everyone is extremely helpful and knows their stuff.’ She suggests that during the start up process you should book onto the 3 hour workshops that The Women's Organisation offer. And ultimately, she says 'have faith in yourself and stay positive. If other people can do it so can you. Who wouldn’t want their own business adviser? You can’t go wrong with The Women’s Organisation behind you’.

If you are interested in the services Jean offers, you can contact her on:

And, if you've been inspired by Jean's story and would like our support and advice to start your own business then contact us, call us on 0151 706 8111 or email us on hello@thewo.org.uk 

Enterprise Hub Introduces Their New ‘Boost Your New Business' Course!

Are you recently self-employed and seeking for ways to boost your business? Well, look no further than the Enterprise Hub’s new 2-day interactive programme. This course will enable you to conduct a simple business review and build a strategic marketing and action plan. By completing certain tasks, you will secure your business and you’ll thrive beyond your first year of trade.

Over the two days, you will assess the various aspects attached to your business. You will review your business plan along with checking your time budget. As well as this, you will carry out an updated SWOT analysis and keep up to date with your market research. Addressing these areas and others, will benefit your business immensely. By the end of this programme you will have a clear understanding of what is going well with your business so far, and have identified areas to improve. Not only this, but you will have gained a further insight into marketing.

Enterprise Hub welcomes any new businesses from Merseyside and Halton that have been registered at Companies House or HMRC for less than 12 months before assistance is provided. Join like-minded business owners to take stock of your achievements, understand more about marketing and analytics and get goal focused to move your business forward.

So far the programme has been a success as shown by the great feedback we have received from our clients…

Helped me to re-focus, feel my motivation had dipped but now ready to get focused’
– Lisa Corcoran.

‘Made me look at my business plan and re-evaluate’
– Jane Clappison

‘Loved it, the course was great’
 – Laura Platt

The new 2-day Programme will run every month at 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB from 9.30 – 16.30.

Contact us for dates and availability on 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk.